September 11, 2014
Webinars and virtual events have become mammoth money makers on the web. Frost & Sullivan, in fact, have predicted that web event revenues will skyrocket to $628.4 million dollars by 2016. This reflects a five-year compound annual growth rate of over 15.3 percent.
Chances are, you and your business have either been in on the action, or you’re looking to join the webinar trend. Like any tech-based nuance, the tools you use to bring your virtual events to the masses are integral to your success.
Below is an in-depth guide to some of the best and brightest choices in webinar and virtual event platforms. Use this as your guide to dive into this space and become a master of reaching your audience with this growing trend.
Winner of 3 excellence awards in the last 12 months alone, virtual events company Onstream Media is a reliable platform used by giants like Coca-Cola and Bank of America. This webinar platform features a powerful suite of tools that facilitate webcasting, live or on-demand webinars, phone and web conferencing, video publishing, and even rich media pay-per-view solutions. If you’re looking to go big and expect large audiences that require stability and feature-rich applications, Onstream is a dependable option.
For those looking to ease into the wild world of virtual events, MegaMeeting is an intuitive and easy-to-use option. Because MegaMeeting is completely cloud-based, there’s no need for a download, simplifying the startup process tremendously. The interface is seriously user-friendly, yet there is a host of fantastic features. MegaMeeting is quick and easy, but definitely not short on functionality.
Another ideal choice for the webinar novice, InstantPresenter has a slew of benefits too. Just like MegaMeeting, InstantPresent is browser-based, so a simple registration is all you need to get started. No downloads are required. InstantPresenter’s best features are the broad reaching marketing tools that make it easier for facilitators to alert folks to the event, and there’s excellent social media integration as well. The one drawback of InstantPresenter: it only works in Chrome, unless you download third-party plugins. For users of other browsers, it’s not the ideal choice.
If branding is essential to your virtual events, ClickWebinar is the perfect platform for your company. It has many useful webinar features, plus the well-integrated ability to beautifully customize the look and feel of the software to match your company’s color, graphics, and logo. Those looking to charge webinar attendees for the experience, however, will need to use a more robust platform; ClickWebinar only works for free events. They are ideal for growing businesses, however, as they have several flexible pricing plans.
From the makers of uber-popular web conference software GoToMeeting, GoToWebinar is another excellent option. This platform will feel familiar to users of GoToMeeting, with some of the same benefits and drawbacks. GoToWebinar is fantastic for efficiency and ease of use, and their webinar invitations are well-designed and polished. If you’re hosting multiple virtual events and utilizing some of the same material, GoToWebinar makes it easy to carry over content. What’s not convenient is the required downloads, and mobile accessibility is also not currently an option.
If you anticipate large crowds at your live events, turn to the platform that can host up to 1,000 participants. iLinc can handle up to 10 times as many participants as many other similar platforms, but it falls short on ease of use and an intuitive interface. While iLinc does have a slightly higher learning curve than other options, it’s feature-rich and immensely robust. Just like ToGoWebinar, you’ll need to download the software to use it as a guest or presenter.
If it’s features you want, Adobe Connect is tough to beat. This live events platform is loaded with features like webcam capabilities, video sharing, and an easy way to set up robust course materials. It only supports 25 users at the base level, but is moderately priced to support this structure. There’s very little you can’t do with this incredible tool, but know that the ramp-up time with Adobe Connect will be a bit longer than other more simple solutions. All those added features can make understanding the interface a lot more complicated, but it’s well worth it if you need a variety of options.
Not to be outdone by their counterparts, Cisco has an excellent webinar platform called WebEx. Although it requires a download for both the organizer and the participants. WebEx is still highly intuitive and will get you up and running in no time. This software has diverse audio controls and capabilities, including free audio broadcast and VoiP integration. They have remote IT support, and a nice selection of tools for presenters. The webcam feature, however, is a bit cumbersome. But overall, this is an excellent option for the middle-range price point of roughly $89.
What’s the most important thing you look for in a webinar platform? Do any of these outshine the rest for your needs?
Conscious online marketer, web executive, and multi-faceted writer Tina Courtney has been creating and fostering online innovations since 1996. Tina has assisted many clients in maximizing online production and marketing efforts, and is a staff writer for SiteProNews, one of the Web’s foremost webmaster and tech news blogs. She’s produced and marketed innovative content for major players like Disney and JDate, as well as boutique startups galore, with fortes including social media, SEO, influencer marketing, community management, lead generation, and project management. Tina is also a certified Reiki practitioner, herbalist, and accomplished life coach. Learn more on LinkedIn, Facebook and Google+. Visit My Google+ Profile